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Watch Your Mouth: Smart Speakers and Privacy

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Use of smart speakers in the Unites States is growing rapidly. According to new research put out in January from NPR and Edison Research, one in six Americans now own a smart speaker, that's around 39 million people. It's an increase of 128 percent from January 2017. Predictions show 75 percent of U.S. households will have a smart speaker by 2020. During this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa State University Professors Michael Bugeja and Doug Jacobson about how smart these speakers really are.  They discuss how speakers pose a privacy risk after recent incidents where smart speakers started recording conversations and sending them without being told to do so.  Jacobson, who is a professor of engineering, says in an era of big data, privacy is nearly dead.

"I don't want to say it's dead, but privacy is on it's death bed," he says. "We've allowed this to happen and seem to be fairly willing. Facebook was a wake up call, but I don't think they lost a whole lot of people on it." 

Bugeja and Jacobson also talk about new privacy rules being implemented in the European Union. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River